After past financial troubles, recent auditor’s report, issue can’t be ignored
At the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO)’s Oct. 15 Board of Administration (BOA) meeting, Deloitte presented the yearly audit of the federation.
The auditors went over their findings, and said that they could only find one notable issue the federation should address—the small fact that they were unable to find any checks on executive spending in SFUO policy.
The fact that the SFUO either has no policy on executive spending, or has one so obscure that a major auditing firm couldn’t track it down is a glaring issue. No matter what, it’s unacceptable to have a student federation with no policy to control spending by the executive. In fact, the past few years have generated a list of examples to prove this point.
Last year, a report by the comptroller general publicized the fact that some members of the executive had taken food from the SFUO-run business Pivik without paying, and had spent a significantly large sum of money on taxi chits to their own homes.
Contributing to the issue is that even if there was a clear policy, no one outside of the SFUO would be able to find it. The most recent version of the SFUO constitution has not yet been posted online, and another document that could possibly clear up the situation, the executive work manual, is not likely to be made public at all.
When it comes to money in general, the SFUO has a bad reputation. It nearly went bankrupt two years ago after mismanaging money from the health plan, and the executive caused a stir when they voted to raise their own salaries by over $6,000. Thankfully, this vote was reversed by students at the winter 2017 General Assembly. The salary increase came over protests from their own union and students, and after the BOA chair told them he believed such a vote would violate conflict of interest principles.
After years of missteps, the SFUO has a chance to address a serious organizational flaw, and prevent further issues from arising in the future.
But this is not solely the responsibility of the SFUO executive. Any measure to regulate executive spending would be voted on by the entire BOA, so it’s incumbent upon all members of the board to consider the presentation made by the auditors, and decide if they want to introduce a motion to alter the constitution.
And it’s incumbent upon the organization in general to ensure that the documents that outline such a policy in the first place are made available to the public.
In short, a lack of policy on executive spending is a big problem, but it can be solved in these two easy steps.